West Side Story:

Unlike the throng of pseudo-trendy joints along Mass Ave that feature upscale “bar food in new shoes,” West Side Lounge truly distinguishes itself from the pack.

West Side Lounge (WSL) is a real restaurant, with real service, all wrapped up in an enticing atmosphere. A traditional dark wood interior is accentuated by a delicate lighting scheme and soothing electronic music that provides just enough ambiance without disturbing conversation.

As for the fare, WSL provides a robust, calculated menu that should appeal to both the casual diner to the most intense gourmand. From the first West Side Martini with hand-stuffed Blue Cheese Olives to the final morsel of Chocolate Molten Cake with CrŠme Anglaise and Raspberry Sauce, West Side Lounge delivers a varied taste sensation that pleases even the most finicky eater.

Like any establishment bold enough to include “lounge” in its moniker, WSL places significant attention on its drink selection. Beyond just the standard beer and wine list, WSL offers a diverse, potent list of specialty drinks ranging from prickly pear margaritas to the Brazilian classic, Caipirinhia.

After swilling a couple of cocktails, the diner is invited to enjoy an extensive list of mouth-watering appetizers, that remains consistent with the WSL’s fusion of various world tastes including, but not limited to, American, French, Mediterranean, Brazilian, and Italian. Consequently, much satisfaction can be found in diverse offerings such as the Maine Crab Cake with Caper Aioli, the Potato and Smoke Fennel Soup with Waffle Potato Chip, and the Centro da Tavolai (for two), an appetizer of mixed bruschetta and other Mediterranean and Italian treats.

These selections, of course, only set the stage for the main course, which offers many of the menu’s highlights. WSL’s most significant dish is the Sliced Steak Tenderloin on Wild Mushroom Risotto, while the dramatic Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon on Lemon Olive Pastina with Fresh Herbed Lobster Source proves brilliant for those looking for lighter fare.

Saving room for desert at the WSL is rewarded. In addition to the aforementioned Chocolate Molten Cake, the Spiced Rum Brioche Apple Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce provides the perfect compliment to some of Boston’s smoothest, most flavorful coffee. For those more adventurous at the end of a meal, a full selection of desert wines and ports is also available.

West Side Lounge is located at 1680 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. In addition to traditional dining, WSL is available for group parties, functions, and catering needs. Reservations can be made by phone, (617) 441-5566.